I’ve probably started several posts with this same title, but it’s fitting for the moment. Books for Keeps is officially slammed!I hear from Kay in Greenville that BookMoochers are carrying us across the finish line. Whether it’s donating books or points, or getting mooches in the mail quickly – it all makes a difference. And our BookMooch “angels” are out in full force. For many of them, this is the 2nd year in a row they’ve helped us accomplish something that seemed truly impossible. I don’t know how, but this group of 15 or so women can spread the word like nobody’s business. I’m so grateful… words seem inadequate.I feel certain we’ll have enough books, but there’s no time to celebrate. My thoughts and efforts have turned to how to distribute so many books in such a short period of time. Here’s a quick glimpse into the mind-boggling details:- We know the student counts by grade at each school, and we’ve forecasted the % of students in each grade who will read at each reading level. For example: some first graders are reading picture books, and some are reading chapter books. It matters! We have to have the right books for the right kids, or we fail. – Next we’ll flag boxes of books for each school. Of course none of our boxes have a consistent number of books in them… so we have to find the combination of boxes that comes closest to the quantity needed at each reading level at each school. Try doing that math while standing in a storage room. – And let’s not forget transporting the boxes to [...]
It’s been a quiet week in Athens, so I’ve been counting, counting, counting. Here’s what we’ve got:5,426 Beginner (ex: Dr. Seuss, Little Golden Books)4,028 Chapter Books, level 1 (grades 1-2)3,497 Chapter books, level 2 (grades 3-5) 931 Chapter books, level 3 (advanced books, grade 5)2,517 Middle/High school 606 UnsortedI hope that adds up to 17,007… but I’m pretty tired after 8 hours of counting books so no guarantees!The total doesn’t include our books in Greenville. It’s been quiet here, but over at Kay’s house… totally different story. BookMoochers are burying her in an avalanche of books. Keep ’em coming.
You know what we really, really love here at Books for Keeps? When books pour in so fast we can hardly keep up. If I figured it correctly, donors from 5 countries and 17 states have jumped in to help by donating books, funds, or points – just in the last three weeks!BookMoochers and Library Thingers around the world are doing their best to bury Kay in books over in Greenville. She’ll be bringing the books to Athens just in time for our May book distributions.Thank you, everyone who’s sending books and/or making point deals that allow Kay to mooch even more: Yoana in AZ (Wimpy Kids!!!), Brenda in Maine (we appreciate the title suggestions, too), Kathleen in MN (good eye for what we need!), and Gerri in Canada (we needed those Goosebumps). I’m not sure if Peta and Michelle know each other (Peta’s in the UK; Michelle’s in Canada), but together they are so on top of what we need it feels like they’re a tag-team. Thank you!THANK YOU, BookMoochers: Nessa in French Polynesia, Jenny in the UK, Sandra in Canada, Marcy, Jennifer, Michelle & Kelsey in NY, “damaistriona”, Melanie and Lizzy in MD, Merwyn, AC, Meg, Carla and Kerry in CA, Mitch and Briana in GA, Annie in AZ, Runa in VA, Mandi in IA, Nancy in WV, Jeremy in CT, Rebecca in NJ, “CD” in PA, Kat in IL, Krista in TX, Gabrielle in MA, and Michelle in NC. Thank you also to John, BookMooch Founder, for a generous point donation just when we needed it most.Kay sees most of the mail-in action, but a few packages still show up at my house [...]
Books for Keeps has the following volunteer opportunities:Ongoing OpportunitiesCommunicationsWe need experienced marketing/communications professionals to help us write press releases, blog posts, newsletters and more.Newsletter TechnicianWe need a volunteer experienced with HTML and/or MailChimp to create and send our monthly newsletter.AttorneyWe occasionally need corporate legal advice. This is a low-frequency volunteer opportunity that will make a big difference to our organization.Book Pickup VolunteersWe need help picking up book donations in Athens and many other northeast Georgia towns. This is a low-frequency opportunity that requires the ability to lift boxes of books and either hold them in your home or drive them to our sort room.Box Pickup VolunteersBarnes & Noble will donate boxes provided we send someone to pick them up around 3pm each day. Can you adopt a day?Book Inspection & SortingWe hold book sorting days several times a year. To be notified of our next one, sign up for our Volunteer Opportunities newsletter. We can sometimes hold a private sorting session if your organization or group would like to work together.Book Drive AssistanceWe have several large book drives coming up, and always need people who can clear the collection bins during the drive and bring the books to our sort room.Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to get involved. You can also subscribe to our Volunteer Opportunities newsletter.
DID YOU KNOW: it costs $850 just to apply for IRS 501(c)(3) certification?Yes, you read that correctly. $850!Once again, Celia Baker and IntelliGRACS Group have come through for Books for Keeps. They’re funding this application fee for us. We couldn’t afford it otherwise.Which reminded me… I never introduced you to Books for Keeps’ new best friend. She was a gift from Celia and ItelliGRACS Group.I called Celia from Harbor Freight to see if she’d donate funds to purchase tarps after our storage room roof leak. In true Celia style, she said “What else do you need that you’re doing without?” I told her about the cart. Her reply: “BUY TWO.”There are 15+ bags/boxes of books crammed on this cart! Can you imagine how many trips it used to take to unload books from the parking lot? One box at a time, from the car, through 3 sets of doors, to our sort room.Celia, what would Books for Keeps do without you? I thank you, my back thanks you, and so does every Books for Keeps donor who’s ever navigated those three sets of doors with arms full of books. And your funding of our 501(c)(3) application is a gift that will keep on giving. Thank you.
Books for Keeps has a new group of supporters and they’re probably our youngest yet. Welcome, Rocky Branch Elementary third-graders!The entire third grade at Rocky Branch Elementary school in Oconee County, GA participated in a book drive for Books for Keeps and raised 372 books. The books included many much-needed picture books for our youngest readers, and I found a few Wimpy Kids hidden in there too.These kids cleaned off their own bookshelves to share with others. Their generosity is truly an inspiration. They’ve promised to send along a list of their favorite books to help us maintain our wishlists.Thank you, Rocky Branch Elementary third-graders! The books are a wonderful gift, and so are you.
Two weeks ago a most extraordinary thing occurred: I went back to high school.Not having a child of my own, my expectations were based solely on my high school experience, and let me be perfectly honest: I was expecting kids full of attitude who wouldn’t give our books a second glance. Eye rolls, heavy sighs… surely you know what I mean. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.What I found instead: kids with clear ideas about what they want to read and why, opinions about the books they’ve already read, and a willingness to try new things. What a joy!I took about 600 books to Clarke Central High School here in Athens. Lindy and Nancy, Clarke Central’s Media Specialists, set aside a portion of the library for the entire day and worked out a plan for 7 sophomore English Literature classes to receive books. We set the books up in the library and the classes came in, one at a time, for about 30 minutes each.Try and picture it: 30ish kids at a time, sifting through tables full of books… discussing storylines with friends… making recommendations to classmates… sharing their opinions with me, the Media Specialists, the teachers, and each other. It was FABULOUS.We set the books out on tables at random, unsorted, uncategorized. This strategy has worked well in elementary school because the younger kids need encouragement to consider books that aren’t familiar to them. The high school students would have appreciated having the books separated into categories: fiction vs. non-fiction, classics vs. modern. If nothing else, we’ll definitely separate the “Chick Lit” next time. Vampire books were popular, but most of the kids who [...]
It was almost a month ago that I posted my plea for help. We had 2 months left to collect 6,000 more books for our May distributions. I’m happy to report we’ve collected about 2,000 books so far, and there are at least 1,000 more en route from BookMoochers. We also have several book drives underway. We’re almost there!And let’s face it: 18,000 books is an estimate of what’s needed. If your child is going to find 12 books he/she wants to read, how many books will he/she reject in the process? We know we need MORE than 12 books per child if we want every child to find 12 books that appeal, but we don’t really know how many more. Maybe 16,000 will do it, or maybe it will take 20,000. What I do know: we will Make It Work.So where are all these books coming from?They’re coming from generous people all over the US and Canada – sometimes even the world – who are willing to mail their books to Athens. They’re coming from frazzled parents who take the time to clean off their bookshelves and deliver boxes of books to our drop-off locations. And a small percentage are coming from eBay, thrift stores, yard sales, you name it.Yes, we are in full-on book-seeking mode here at Books for Keeps. I guarantee you it’s all I think about! Coordinating book drives… collecting books… sorting books… boxing books… wow.In the minutes in between, I’ve been meeting with the three elementary schools we’ve chosen for distributions. I’m meeting with educators who know first-hand what sort of need is out there in the student population… [...]